The rich Indian culture and its majestic wildlife are known to make travellers swoon with delight. Jungles are mysterious, and their sheer beauty and peacefulness are what draws people to them. From a herd of deer getting chased by a tiger to elephants bathing with their younger ones, it’s awe-inspiring to see these wild animals in their natural habitat, with much of the flora and fauna thriving in these dense forests being indigenous to India.
Below we have provided you with a handy resource of the best safari locations in India, along with some travel safety tips.
Best Places to Safari in India
Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan
Ranthambore National Park is home to the Royal Bengal Tigers, who are in a way royalty themselves. Spanning over 1334sq. km, tigers are the main attraction of this national park, especially for wildlife photographers.
Apart from tigers, leopards and marsh crocodiles can be seen here. It is also home to other wild animals like sloth bears, wild boars, sambar, chital, blue bull antelope, etc. You can also see jackals, Indian flying fox, blackbucks and desert cats. This national park also has a large species of reptiles like the snub-nosed marsh crocodiles, pythons, cobras, and desert monitor lizards.
The park remains open from October to June, but the best time to visit Ranthambore National Park for wildlife viewing is April to June.
Hemis National Park, Ladakh
Situated in Ladakh, this national park is home to the elusive and endangered snow leopard. Covering an area of 4400 sq km, the Hemis National Park has 16 species of mammals and 73 species of birds. Since it is situated at a high altitude mountainous terrain, this destination is also great for trekking. Other animals that inhabit this national park includes Tibetan argali sheep, ibex, blue sheep, Asiatic ibex, Tibetan wolf, golden eagles and Eurasian brown bear (another endangered species in India).
The best time to visit Hemis National Park is from May to mid-October. Due to heavy snowfall, the park remains close in November-December.
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Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Bandhavgarh National Park, situated in northern India, is home to the majestic Royal Bengal Tigers. Surrounded by two rivers, the park is named after a nearby fortress. It is considered one of the best places to spot tigers due to its healthy population in this area. The park was the first to record an instance of a male tiger raising and caring for his cubs after the death of their mother. This park was also once home to the now-extinct white tigers. Other wild animals to see in this national park are Asiatic jackal, Bengal tigers, wild pig, Bengal fox, small Indian civet, leopards, spotted deer, barking deer, chinkara, and striped hyena.
The best time to visit Bandhavgarh National Park is during the winter season -October to March, while for tiger sightings, March to May is ideal.
Sasan-Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat
Gir National Park in Gujarat is the best place to spot lions in India. Situated on the western peninsula, the park has rugged scrubland and dense forest. If you want to see the king of the jungle outside of Africa, the Gir is the only wildlife sanctuary in India, where you can see the Asiatic lions. Apart from lions, other wild animals that you can see includes leopards, jackals, striped hyenas, crocodiles, and Indian fox.
The best time to visit the Sasan-Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is from December to April.
Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
Jim Corbett National Park is covered with marshy areas, grasslands, hills, rivers and a large lake that spreads over 520.8 sq km. Established in 1936, it is a Project Tiger Reserve and home to 580 species of birds, 110 tree species, 50 species of mammals and 25 species of reptiles. Jim Corbett National Park also houses 700 elephants. Frequently sighted mammals include deer, leopard, monkeys, pythons, black bears, crocodiles, langurs, golden mahseer, Indian trout, spot barking deer, spotted deer, sambar, chinkara, serow, goral, and Himalayan tahr.
The best time to visit the Jim Corbett National Park is mid-November to June-end. For tiger sightings, the summer season – March to May – is the best time.
Tadoba National Park, Maharashtra
Famous for its natural heritage, Tadoba is an enchanting place to enjoy wildlife in India. Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is one of India’s most stunning and best-preserved Tiger Reserve with the most noticeable tiger sightings in the state of Maharashtra. The other wildlife spotted here are hyenas, spotted deer, wild boars, barking deer, leopord, gaurs, four-horned antelopes, blue bulls and Indian pangolins.
The winter season (November to February) is the best time to visit Tadoba National Park. However, for exclusive tiger sightings, visit this park in March-May – the summer season.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala
Located in God’s own country, this picturesque wildlife sanctuary covers an area of 1,92,000 acres and offers a lush environment for its inhabitants. This sanctuary has semi-evergreen, tropical evergreen, and moist deciduous forests. It is also a notable Elephant and Tiger Reserve and home to the endangered White Tiger. Being the oldest wildlife sanctuary in Kerala, the other wildlife to see, includes gaur, sambar, wild pig, Indian giant squirrel, Travancore flying squirrel, jungle cat, dhole, sloth bear, Nilgiri tahr, lion-tailed macaque, and Nilgiri marten.
Though it is open throughout the year, the best time to visit the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is September to April.
Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sundarbans National Park is the most popular place to visit for a wildlife safari in India. Covering an area of over 4624sq km, you will see sights like a tiger swimming in the water, which is a rare sight! It is home to some exotic animals such as saltwater crocodiles, royal Bengal tigers, fishing cats, leopard cats, South Asian river dolphins, macaques, and Indian grey mongoose.
The best time to visit the Sundarbans National Park is November to March.
Tips to Enhance Your Safari Experience
Pack Appropriate Clothing
Like many parts of Asia, the Indian weather can drastically change from the humid heat of summer to the chilling frost of winter. During the morning safari, do not forget to carry a warm coat. Other things like a scarf, a hat, or sunscreen are essential too.
Dress appropriately for the trek through the jungle, and make sure you pack enough neutral and forest-coloured clothes – think green, brown and beige – so you can blend in with the surroundings! Experts believe, bright and vibrant colours can disturb/distract the wildlife, making them attack the person unintentionally. As we’re on this topic, remember that animals have a strong sense of smell, which is way more powerful than humans. Hence, skip perfumes and colognes on a safari!
Keep It on the Down-Low
It is vital to be on the down-low during a safari. It is vastly exciting to spot a tiger or a lion,but making a ruckus can alert the animal that it’s being observed. The same goes for the animals that appear to be ignoring you, don’t try to draw their attention by clapping, hollering or making any other loud, disturbing sounds. This could backfire as the animal sacred from all the noise may suddenly charge at you. By being overly loud, not only are you disturbing the animals (who tend to be shy and wary), but you might also be disrupting your fellow travellers in your vehicle.
Instead, embrace the silence and sounds of the wild. By keeping hushed, you’ll be able to hear birdsong, the rustling of leaves, crunch of undergrowth, among others.
Carry Your Passport or an ID Card
Do NOT neglect to carry your passport! Almost all national parks require foreign travellers to show passports to verify their reservations. Also, without an ID card or passport, your entry to the park would be denied.
Don’t Try To Feed the Animals
No matter what happens, never feed wild animals. Many parks and reserves don’t allow food to be carried on safaris.
In case you are on a walking trail or camping, do not alienate yourself from the group. If a wild animal approaches you, be cautious and alert, but do not make sudden movements or run.
Listen to your guide or instructor and follow their instructions. They know best, and most of them are expert tour guides with ample experience. In most cases, the animal might be curious and will move away on its own accord after a while.
Remember you are a guest at the animal’s natural habitat. Don’t ruin their home by littering. Keep the environment clean and abstain from throwing food, wrappers, bottles, etc. Carry a spare bag to dump all your waste and later empty it into a trash can.
We’ve mentioned in detail what to do and what not to do on an Indian safari, along with information about various Indian national parks.
But the most important thing to keep in mind is – going on a safari is supposed to be fun! As long as you pick the right destination and safari tour operator, you’ll have a great holiday.